Here’s how you can brighten up winter by practicing Danish hygge

Winter can be hard for many people, with less daylight and lower temperatures. Of course, there are many holidays and celebrations to look forward to, but they can come with extra busyness and the anticipation can be emotionally and physically draining.

This season, give yourself a break and perhaps improve your happiness by following a Danish practice hygge.

Hygge literally means – well, there is no direct translation into English! But it is a sense of comfort, gratitude and well-being. Pronounced “hoo-ga” or “hui-gah”, it is a common practice in Denmark to slow down life and prioritize enjoying simple pleasures such as close family and friends, food, nature and relaxation.

Denmark is known as one of the happiest countries in the world, and hygge may be the reason. With average winter temperatures in the freezing mark and only seven hours of sunlight per day in December, Danes use this time to comfort themselves and enjoy what they have.

History of Haig

The word hygge comes from the Norwegian language, where it means well-being. It first appears in Danish writings in the 18th century. The concept of hygge fits well with Danish culture, which embraces genuine connection and a relaxed approach to life.

Although the concept of hygge grew in Denmark, an article published about it in 2015 started a spike in coverage around the world. Later articles and books about hygge followed. In 2016, the word hygge made the Oxford Dictionary’s shortlist for word of the year. It was defined as “a quality of ease and comfortable conviction that creates a feeling of contentment or well-being (considered a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”

As the hygge concept became more popular worldwide, it became more commercial. Broadway production of the musical frozen There’s a song called Hygge—which ensures that future generations will be well-versed in the concept. Lifestyle stores promote furniture, blankets, candles and other accessories to make a home more beautiful. Still, the original meaning of the term focuses on enjoying what you have, not necessarily getting more.

In addition to being a newly adopted word in Scrabble, hygge can be used as a verb, adjective and noun.

Ways hygge can help happiness

Practicing hygge sounds good, can it really make you happy? Everyone is dealing with different stressors and situations. However, hygge corresponds to the concept of well-being and happiness.

Connection is essential to hygge, and good social relationships are a key predictor of happiness. Hygge is a perfect solution year-round, especially in winter when people are less social and can feel more isolated without activities with close friends.

A significant part of hygge is gratitude, appreciating what you have. Research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. According to Harvard Medical School, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, enjoy good experiences, improve their health, cope with adversity, and build stronger relationships.” Practicing hygge provides regular opportunities to appreciate the people and things around you.

Relaxation is another aspect of hygge that translates to well-being and happiness. Taking time out of an overloaded schedule to slow down and relax reduces stress, increases creativity and productivity, and aids decision-making. Instead of waiting until burnout occurs, hygge creates built-in downtime.

Adding hygge to your life

If you don’t think you’ve practiced hygge before, there’s no need to FOMO—you probably have! Think back to the last cold, dreary day when you and your friend sweated all day, curled up on a blanket, binge-watched a Netflix series, and talked about anything and everything. Maybe it was when you had a game night or Friendsgiving with some of your loved ones. Or when you went for a nature walk with your pup, appreciating the open space and the chance to breathe fresh air.

There are many ways to hyge. But it’s not just about activity; It’s about intention and attitude. Because hygge is part of Danish culture, people there intentionally and consistently hyge. They allow downtime to be included in their schedule and appreciate the restorative aspects of hanging out with friends and family. And they don’t just do it on special occasions. They do this weekly.

Mike Wicking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute and author of The Little Book of HyggeHyge’s central principles highlight:

  • Get together with a few close friends in a trusted environment. Danes believe that the ideal number for people to hygge with is three or four.
  • Enjoy good food and drink. It can be a simple meal at home, a local coffeehouse or a casual and cozy restaurant.
  • Disconnect from digital devices and distractions to enjoy the moment. This includes taking time off work to be with family and friends, and turning off email and social media when you’re with people.
  • Turn off the lights. Candles are an important aspect of creating a hygge environment.
  • Comfortable clothes. Now is not the time for suits and heels. Think soft sweats and thick, warm socks.
  • There is a hygge spot in the house where you can light candles, snuggle under a blanket and drink hot tea, coffee or cocoa.

Although hygge is often practiced indoors, it doesn’t have to be, even in winter. A brisk walk or run outside, a snowball fight or ice skating with friends are great ways to hygge. Activities such as picnics, barbecues, canoeing and camping are popular in warm weather.

While hygge can help improve happiness, it’s not a substitute for emotional support. Still, with its multiple benefits, practicing hygge can help make this winter a little brighter, warmer, and fuller!

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